Today in 1854, the first sitting of the parliament of New Zealand.

And there’s an interesting story about that lawmaking body that involves a very special biscuit tin.

If you know your political science (or at least your “Schoolhouse Rock”) you know that in parliaments and other legislatures, introducing a bill is only the first step of the process.

Not every bill passes, and some don’t even get brought up for consideration.

Often it’s up to top legislative leaders which bills will come up for debates and votes.

In New Zealand, they set a different course, at least for some of the time.

In the 1980s Parliament decided that when there was extra time on the calendar, they would choose at random which bills to consider.

And, as one lawmaker explained, to make that random choice they used what they had on hand: a big white metal tin!

After having removed any remaining biscuits, the parliament added little plastic bingo numbers.

Each bill gets assigned a number, and when it’s biscuit tin day, a staffer chooses some of the bingo numbers from the tin, and the bills associated with those numbers become official legislative business.

Some big and important bills have come up this way over the years.

And while there are plenty of fancy and high tech ways to do random draws these days, Parliament is sticking with this tradition.

The tin, after all, is in great shape, and it doesn’t look like the bingo numbers are going to go bad any time soon.

For those who are still working remotely, the YouTube channel Everything Is Hacked presents the Zoom Pants Filter!

They set up a plugin that detects when a person’s lower half is showing, and gives the user an option.

It can blur out everything from the waist down, or it can draw on virtual pants to show on the screen.

Of course, the other option is to just wear pants.

Biscuit tin democracy: the humble start of New Zealand’s most progressive laws (The Guardian)

Zoom Pants Filter (The Awesomer)

Join our show on Patreon for just $1 a month!

Photo by Dr. Thomas Liptak via Flickr/Creative Commons